The foster care system in Washington state needs some work - and we’re digging in.
The Foster Innovation Lab exists to inspire positive change within foster care by contributing to a culture of innovation, creativity, and shared learning. We do this by clarifying challenges, facilitating collaboration, and promoting better conversations.
Since we launched in 2016, we've worked to help the system by collecting data, reporting that data, speaking, advocating, cheering, and more. The challenges facing this system are complex, but by working together, one step at a time, we can make a difference for the 5,000 kids in the Washington state foster care system.
At the core of our mission is a desire for better conversations. Conversations that are hopeful, forward-moving, and accountable. We also believe that - just like a good road trip relies on a map - good work relies on good data.
In the beginning, we collected and reported our own data in order to demonstrate that it can be done. Now, with a growing momentum towards data-driven decision making within the field, we are instead assisting others with with their needs.
Where We’ve Been, And Where We’re Going
We started this effort by collecting six months of data from foster parents in order to better understand their experiences. A core problem in Washington (and nationwide) is the high turnover rate of foster homes. We sought to understand why.
We then turned our eyes towards the idea of measuring hope. We believed that in order for change to happen, those within the system needed to believe that it was possible. We wanted to know how hopeful everyone felt, and what factors increased/decreased those feelings.
We are greatly encouraged by the changes we are beginning to see. In our conversations with leadership from both private agencies and the newly-created Department of Children, Youth, and Families, we like what we are hearing. Our focus has therefore shifted to one of support and assistance.